Derry delegation to visit Tony Taylor in prison

Tony Taylor. 2509JM05
Tony Taylor. 2509JM05

A delegation of local politicians are to meet with Derry prisoner Tony Taylor this week as the campaign for his release intensifies.

The visit to Maghaberry Prison on Friday follows a request from those leading the Free Tony Taylor campaign for a cross-party delegation from the city to meet with him.

People attending a Christmas candle light vigil at Guildhall Square last year in support of a campaign calling for the release of Derry republican. DER5016GS013

People attending a Christmas candle light vigil at Guildhall Square last year in support of a campaign calling for the release of Derry republican. DER5016GS013

Tony Taylor’s wife Lorraine said she is hopeful an expected series of meetings involving politicians will help to raise the profile of her husband’s continued incarceration.

Among those confirmed to take part in the delegation are Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council Maolíosa McHugh, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, Foyle MP Elisha McCallion and Raymond McCartney MLA. Other political representatives from other parties are also expected to meet with Mr Taylor over the coming weeks.

Tony Taylor was arrested 18 months ago and a decision taken by former Secretary of State Teresa Villiers to revoke his early release licence has meant he has been in jail ever since in what was last night termed “internment by remand”.

Since his arrest, hundreds of local people have taken part in a succession of Free Tony Taylor rallies and vigils, including one in Guildhall Square back in July, which was staged in opposition to a decision by the Parole Commission to continue with Mr Taylor’s detention.

Attendees at the protest calling for Tony Taylor's release back in July.

Attendees at the protest calling for Tony Taylor's release back in July.

Mr Taylor (49), a member of the Republican Network for Unity group, was released from Maghaberry Prison in 2014 after serving a three-year sentence for possessing a rifle. He had previously been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Lorraine Taylor, who has been at the helm of the campaign for her husband’s release, said: “It is now 552 days. It is devastating for us and we can’t move. We are still sitting at a standstill.

“I am hopeful now the politicians will help with this, get the focus on his case and let the world know about Tony. I want the world to see what they have done.”

Speaking ahead of the visit, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said: “Sinn Féin has consistently stated that if evidence exists to show that Tony Taylor is a risk to the public it should be put before him and his legal team in open court so this can be challenged. His continued detention is a violation of fundamental human rights and subversion of due process. It is a form of legalised internment by remand and a denial of natural justice.”

“Sinn Féin representatives have continuously raised this matter with the British Secretary of State and most recently, Elisha McCallion MP raised the matter with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May.”